Influence of Breastfeeding on Cognitive Outcomes at Age 6-8 Years: Follow-up of Very Low Birth Weight Infants
American Journal of Epidemiology
The relation between breastfeeding and childhood cognitive development was examined in 1991-1993 among 439 school-age children weighing <1,500 g when born in the United States between 1991 and 1993. Measures of cognitive function included overall intellectual function, verbal ability, visual-spatial and visual-motor skill, and memory. Higher test scores for each domain of cognitive function except memory were observed among children who were breastfed directly. After covariate adjustment for
... e environment, maternal verbal ability, a composite measure of parental education and occupation, and length of hospitalization, the authors found that breastfed children evidenced an advantage only for measures specific to visual-motor integration (5.1 intelligence quotient (IQ) points, 95% confidence interval: 1.0, 9.2). Differences in test scores between breastfed children and those who did not receive any breast milk feedings were 3.6 IQ points (95% confidence interval: -0.3, 7.5) for overall intellectual functioning and 2.3 IQ points (95% confidence interval: -3.0, 7.6) for verbal ability. Indicators of social advantage confound the association between breastfeeding and cognitive function, but careful measurement can reduce residual confounding and may clarify causal relations. breast feeding; child development; infant nutrition; infant, very low birth weight Abbreviations: CI, confidence interval; DHA, docosahexaenoic acid; IQ, intelligence quotient; SES, socioeconomic status; VLBW, very low birth weight.